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FTC Privacy Rules Expand to Protect Kids on Social Networks

By - Source: The Federal Trade Commission | B 11 comments

These amendments should make the Digital Frontier easier to navigate for both kids under 13 and their parents.

The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that it has adopted final amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) that address the need for stricter rules regarding children under 13 and their use of websites, social networks and mobile apps.

The update is the result of a review initiated back in 2010 to ensure that the COPPA Rule keeps up with evolving technology, including the way children now utilize and navigate the Internet through the increased use of mobile devices and social networking. The Commission said the amendments reflect public feedback and careful consideration of the entire record of the rulemaking.

"The Commission takes seriously its mandate to protect children’s online privacy in this ever-changing technological landscape," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  "I am confident that the amendments to the COPPA Rule strike the right balance between protecting innovation that will provide rich and engaging content for children, and ensuring that parents are informed and involved in their children’s online activities."

One change to the COPPA Rule is the definition of an "operator". It now includes a child-directed site or service that integrates outside services (plugins, ad networks, etc.) that collect personal information from its visitors. Excluded from this definition are platforms such as Google Play and Apple's App Store.

Also changed is the definition of a "website or online service directed to children". It now includes plug-ins or ad networks that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information through a child-directed website or online service. Sites and services that target children only as a secondary audience must get parental consent if the children identify themselves as younger than 13.

"The definition of 'collection' of personal information has been changed so that operators may allow children to participate in interactive communities without parental consent, so long as the operators take reasonable measures to delete all or virtually all children’s personal information before it is made public," the FTC said.

"Personal Information" has been updated to include geolocation information, and media that contains a child's image or voice like pictures, videos and audio files. It also now includes "personal identifiers" that can be used to recognize users over time and across different websites or online services. For the latter, parental notice and consent isn't required "when an operator collects a persistent identifier for the sole purpose of supporting the website or online service’s internal operations, such as contextual advertising, frequency capping, legal compliance, site analysis, and network communications."

"The amended Final Rule revises the parental notice provisions to help ensure that operators’ privacy policies, and the direct notices they must give parents before collecting children’s personal information, are concise and timely," the FTC said.

The COPPA Rule was mandated when Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. It forces websites and services to give notice and acquire parental consent when collecting, using, or disclosing personal information of children under 13. They must also keep that information secure, and are prohibited from luring kids into coughing up more info than what is deemed reasonably necessary.

To read the full list of changes, read the FTC's announcement here.


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  • 7 Hide
    Thunderfox , December 21, 2012 7:20 PM
    Or you could just keep your 10 year old off of facebook entirely, like any parent worth a damn.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , December 21, 2012 7:41 PM
    ThunderfoxOr you could just keep your 10 year old off of facebook entirely, like any parent worth a damn.


    But then if they sneak off and make a FB account without you knowing, how are you suppose to monitor them?

    That's the fun part about parenting. What to ban, and what to monitor.
  • 3 Hide
    thecolorblue , December 21, 2012 8:50 PM
    A Bad DayBut then if they sneak off and make a FB account without you knowing, how are you suppose to monitor them?That's the fun part about parenting. What to ban, and what to monitor.

    so you prefer big brother to monitor and categorize them... wonderful!!!!
    there's nothing quite like setting your child up for having been constantly monitored and recorded from birth.. good parenting there!

    as to the law change... it appears to give less privacy to children and more power to corporate data collection... and thusly govt data collection. no surprise there
  • 2 Hide
    SirGCal , December 21, 2012 9:15 PM
    A good parent would teach the kids WHY facebook et.all are not safe to use. Not just say 'no' and trust their command will be obeyed. I'm sick of lazy parents. I have a 19 year old of my own and two new twins myself. But I agree this seems to take away privacy and give data collectors more power. Hence why you should AVOID these so-called 'social' sites all together. Try playing with your kids instead of sitting them in front of a 'device' to entertain them... Heaven forbid we have to act like parents to our children and try to guide and educate them.
  • 4 Hide
    -Jackson , December 21, 2012 9:20 PM
    Parenting?
    That hardly even exists these days. It's really disgusting.
  • 2 Hide
    warmon6 , December 21, 2012 10:11 PM
    A Bad DayBut then if they sneak off and make a FB account without you knowing, how are you suppose to monitor them?


    There are ways of monitoring them.....

    I mean come on.... I could create an entire list of ways to watch what they do and 99% of them have been around for good number of YEARS.

    Just a few of the simple ones are: to scan there history logs and use software to blocks sites.
  • 2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , December 21, 2012 10:55 PM
    A lot of these sites say you have to be 14 to register. That's a bit young. Try 16. Usually if someone has made it to that age without whoring themselves out, they probably never will. Until then, they're vulnerable.
  • 0 Hide
    Kami3k , December 22, 2012 1:26 AM
    warmon6 to scan there history logs and use software to blocks sites.


    This is a joke right?

    I knew how to get around this 10 years ago when I was a kid.
  • 1 Hide
    Camikazi , December 22, 2012 4:26 AM
    Kami3kThis is a joke right?I knew how to get around this 10 years ago when I was a kid.

    There are ways to make it much harder to get around them and your average kid is about as educated with computer stuff as your average adult (not very). That whole thing about kids being smarter with technology is not true, they might be able to learn the basic programs faster but advanced stuff is still beyond most of them just like it is beyond most adults. Logs and histories can be backed up so even if cleared you have a log and website blocking can be done from certain DNS Servers or from routers themselves, also making use of Group Policy and permissions will make it so kids can't change anything. It is very possible to limit what a kid can and can't do on a computer it just takes some research and time which some people don't seem willing to do if they can just blame things on others instead.
  • -1 Hide
    demonhorde665 , December 22, 2012 11:08 AM
    ThunderfoxOr you could just keep your 10 year old off of facebook entirely, like any parent worth a damn.


    who are you to judge what kind of parent some one else is or isn't ???
  • 0 Hide
    thecolorblue , December 22, 2012 12:24 PM
    For those who think Facebook use is harmless... think again:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJCczbSF-B8
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